So over to Sarah...
New Zealand has a population of over 4.4 million people. If you want to track down a Semple amongst the population, you will find 22 entries in the electronic white pages, of whom four are directly related to me (mother, brother, cousins). The Semple name would not mean anything to people in New Zealand if it hadn’t been for Robert (Bob) Semple (1873-1955) – coalminer, trade unionist, politician and general stirrer.
|The Honorable Robert Semple, New Zealand Minister|
for Public Works and Transport, 1935
Bob was born on 21 October 1873 at Crudine Creek, near Sofala, on the New South Wales goldfields in Australia. He joined the mining union, often getting involved in lengthy, bitter and violent disputes. When he became blacklisted in Australia, he moved to New Zealand and soon involved himself in the mining unions of his adopted country. He was known as “Bob the Ranter” or “Fighting Bob”. He was jailed in 1913 for supporting the general strike and again in 1916 after fighting conscription for overseas service.
Bob then entered politics, serving nine terms as a Labour Member of Parliament and held a number of infrastructure portfolios, such as Minister of Public Works and Minister of Railways. He was flamboyant, colourful and devoted to the task of making working class lives better.
When people find out my family name, their next comment is usually “I hope that you are not related to that stirrer Bob Semple”. I have not been able to identify any links to Bob Semple, however his wife Margaret McNair (1876-1967) is definitely related to me. Her grandfather Thomas McNair and my great great great grandmother were brother and sister.
|Margaret (McNair) Semple and her husband, Bob|
So while I can claim to have no “stirrers” blood in me, I can say with a grin on my face, that my family is obviously attracted to stirrers.